Richard Knaub-Scottsbluff

Scottsbluff (Class of 1954)
The Nebraska High School Athlete of the Year in 1954, Knaub was a four-year letterman in track and a two-year letterman in football and basketball, earning all-conference and all-state honors. On the track, he established three state records and won all-class gold medals in the pole vault his sophomore and junior seasons and in the long jump his junior year. Knaub won the state pentathlon as a senior, but was injured at the state track meet. He helped UCLA win the NCAA championship in 1956 and won two conference long jump championships. He competed in the 1956 Olympic Trials in the long jump.

Jess Keifer – Holdrege

 

Coach. His tenure as head football coach of the Holdrege Dusters covered a span of 25 years, achieving a 120 wins and being awarded three Omaha World-Herald mythical state championships. Those came in 1950, 1953 and 1959 with two undefeated seasons in 1953 and 1958. During the 1950s, the Dusters missed being in the top 10 ratings just twice. Jess was best known for his Single-Wing offense, which later evolved into the wing-T. He also served as track coach for 38 years and was cross country coach after retiring from his football job. Jess was named the Coach of the Year by the Omaha World-Herald for the 1959-60 school year when his football and track team both won state championships. He was named assistant coach for the first Nebraska Shrine game in 1959 and was the head coach of the all-star game the next year, tutoring the South to 46-7 victory.

Other honors include recognition by Kearney State College for his outstanding contribution to high school athletics and having the Holdrege football field and stadium renamed Keifer Field-Memorial Stadium.

Joanne Kappas – Bellevue East-Bellevue West-Omaha Bryan

2011 InducteeCoach
In an unequalled coaching career, Joanne Kappas watched her volleyball teams collect 11 state championship trophies, including six straight from 1992-1997. She started at Bellevue East, coaching for five years before moving on to a 19-year career at Bellevue West. She finished at Omaha Bryan, completing a unique triple crown of leading three different schools to the Class A state tournament.  While achieving 24 state tournament appearances in her 28-year career, she compiled a 774-210 record.

Gene Kruger – Elkhorn

Coach.  After serving three years in the United States Marine Corps, Gene attended Midland College receiving his B.S. in 1946. His first teaching and coaching job was at his hometown of Arlington, heading up all sports. He made the move to Elkhorn in 1949 where he hired on as assistant coach in all sports and taught math. The next year he was moved up to head basketball and track coach. He got the head football job in 1951. To all this, he added the responsibilities of athletic director until 1955 when he left teaching for private business. The lure of the classroom brought him back to education in 1960 when he returned to Elkhorn as a coach of all sports, athletic director, and math teacher. Over the next 15 years he gradually eased out of coaching one sport at a time but remained as AD until 1980. His track teams garnered several district championships with two winning the state runner-up trophy. He was selected as North All-Star basketball coach in 1970. 

Jami Kubik Hagedorn – Cambridge

2011 Inductee

Class of 1994
Athlete


Jami Kubik did it all for the Cambridge Trojans, who dominated their class in her time. With Kubik one of the centers of attention,
Cambridge won back-to-back state volleyball and back-to-back state basketball championships. She earned all-state honors in volleyball as a junior and a senior, and was the honorary Class C1 all-state captain in 1993, and she was four-time state track qualifier in three events, setting school records in the 100-meter high hurdles, the 300-meter low hurdles, the long jump and the 1,600-meter relay. But she excelled in basketball above all other sports, starting Cambridge on its 81-game winning streak. Nebraska’s Miss Basketball in 1994, she was a two-time all-class all-state pick, scoring 564 points her senior season. At the University of Nebraska, she lettered for four years, playing on two NCAA Tournament teams and earning Academic All-Big Eight honors.

Nile Kinnick – Omaha Benson

Athlete–One of the most nationally known of all Omaha high school graduates, this Benson High product (Class of 35) became a football legend. His athletic skills were abundantly clear, for he starred in track & field, was named all-state in football and helped Benson nearly reach the top in Class A basketball.

Attending college at the University of Iowa, Nile Kinnick was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1939 for his outstanding efforts on behalf of the Hawkeyes. In his acceptance speech at the Heisman dinner, Kinnick reflected the prevailing isolationist mood of the country, saying he thanked God he had been born in America “where they have football fields instead of in Europe where they have battlefields.” And he added that he knew “the football players of this country had rather battle for such medals as the Heisman Trophy than for such medals as the Croix de Guerre and the Iron Cross.” Sadly, he was lost while a Naval flier during World War II. Today several gridirons in both Nebraska and Iowa bear his name as a true competitor and

Nile Kinnick is said to be one the Hawkeyes’ greatest football players. In his football career gained 1,674 yards. In his senior year, he completed 31 passes for 638 yards; over three years were good for 2,834 yards, an average of 39.9 yards per kick. His return of kickoffs and punts totaled 604 yards, and he made 11 of his 17-drop kick attempts.

Nile was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1951.

Nile Kinnick, Halfback  Iowa, 1937-1939

Much stock has been put into the legendary aspect of the player and what he meant to his school and to college football. No player in college football history meant more to a whole state than Nile Kinnick meant to Iowa becoming its most popular hero and is still today its most revered icon. If you want the ultimate model of what a student/athlete should be, Kinnick was it as a Heisman winner on the football field and a honor student and class president off of it.

The Iron man of Iron Men: Iowa football wasn’t exactly a power in the world of college football in the 1930s as its neighbor to the north, Minnesota, was busy owning the Midwest. After going 2-13-1 and scoring a total of 82 points in 1937 and 1938, Dr. Eddie Anderson took over the head coaching job and Iowa went on to have a season for the ages winning games in dramatic fashion with a group of two way players outlasting several big-time powerhouses with specialists on offense and defense. 

Kinnick had a flair for the dramatic making the game-winning play against Indiana choosing to throw for a fifteen yard touchdown pass rather than try the game-tying field goal. After an early 27-7 loss to Michigan, he took care of Wisconsin on a late touchdown pass for 19-13 win. Losing player after player to injury, Iowa had only 14 healthy players late against Purdue in the 4-0 win. Iowa upset No. 1 Notre Dame 7-6 using only 15 players with Kinnick punting 16 times for 731 yards including a 63-yard boot under a heavy rush pinning the Irish on the six-yard line late in the game. Many still consider it the greatest clutch punt in college football history. Kinnick also scored Iowa’s only touchdown. The following week the “Iron man” team of Iowa upset the might Minnesota squad 13-9. 

The Iron Man of the Iron Man team played 402 consecutive minutes before getting knocked out of the Northwestern game with a separated shoulder. Kinnick was the star of the show all year throwing for 638 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 31 passes and ran for 374 yards. In his career he gained 1,674 yards returning kickoffs for 604 yards. As a kicker, Kinnick punted 71 times in his career for a 39.9 average and hit 11 of 17 drop kicks. In 1939, Kinnick was involved in 16 of the 19 touchdowns (11 passing, 5 rushing) Iowa scored and responsive for 107 of Iowa’s 130 points.

The Heisman speech: In perhaps the most eloquent Heisman speech ever given, Kinnick finished with this epic passage. “If you will permit me, I’d like to make a comment which in my mind is indicative, perhaps, of the greater significance of football, and sports emphasis in general in this country, and that is, I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest, and not on the battlefields of Europe. I can speak confidently and positively that the players of this country, would much more, much rather struggle and fights to win the Heisman award, than the Croix de Guerre.”

The “big” man on campus: Along with being the star of the football team, Kinnick was senior class president, a Phi Betta Kappa and a member of the national scholastic honor society.

The World War II fighter: Following his Iowa career, Kinnick chose to go to law school and join the Naval Air Corps Reserve. In 1943, Kinnick’s fighter plane went down in the Caribbean sea on a training flight. In 1972, the University changed the name of Iowa Stadium to Kinnick Stadium to honor their hero.

Honors:

  • College Football Hall of Fame – 1951
  • Heisman Trophy – 1939
  • Walter Camp Award – 1939
  • Maxwell Award – 1939
  • All-America – 1939
  • Big Ten MVP – 1939
  • No. 24 Iowa jersey retired
  • Selected the greatest player in Iowa history by the fans – 1989

Dick Koch – Omaha

Coach.. It was the 1970-71 school year and Omaha Northwest had just opened its doors for the first time.  Dick was the new head basketball coach moving in from a stint at Gering with a record of 101-50.  He hit the court running and took the “Huskies” to the State Tournament in their very first year of competition.  During his 23-year tenure at Northwest his teams won 305 games with 187 losses. Along with Gering, that makes a lifetime coaching record of 406 – 247 which gives him a  .608 lifetime percentage.  His teams made eleven trips to the State Tournament of which nine were consecutive, making it to the championship round five times and winning it twice.  Among the honors he has already received is the Skip Palrang award, the Ed Johnson award and Metro Coach of The Year twice.  Non-coaching honors include Gering Jaycees Educator of the Year, Northwest Teacher of the Year and Northwest Hall of Fame.

Ginger Keller Marx – Gibbon

inducteeAthlete. Gibbon (1990)
A pillar of Gibbon’s back-to-back state championship teams of 1988-89, Ginger Keller scored 1,413 points in high school – making the all-class all-state second team as a senior. The Buffs won 66 straight games with Keller at center, and she averaged a double-double — 15.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game – while leading Gibbon to its second state championship in 1989. Her senior year, she averaged 26 points and 16 rebounds per game. In her four years, Gibbon posted an 89-4 record in basketball. A dominating middle blocker on the volleyball court, she also qualified for the state track meet in four events. At the University of Nebraska at Kearney, she graduated as the Lopers’ career leader in points (1,758) and rebounds (847) and led UNK to its first-ever NCAA post-season appearance in 1994.

Nancy Kindig Malone – Hastings St. Cecilia

NANCY (KINDIG) MALONE, Athlete–High school athletics for girls in Nebraska was formally revised in the early ‘70s. One of the big stars in the revival was Nancy Kindig, who graduated from Saint Cecilia High School of Hastings in 1977. For four years as a track & field competitor, she led the Blue Hawks to state titles in Class C, contributing efforts in the long jump, hurdles and relays. Her best marks in the long jump (18-11) compare well with today’s girl athletes. Her true grit and determination was a part of St. Cecilia’s 66 straight basketball victories and the 1977 State Championship in Class C. She won gold medals in the hurdles, long jump and relays.

Perhaps the biggest cheers for her came when she was not at her best.  She suffered a broken leg in the relay at the state meet, hobbling but still finishing the race and leading her team to gold.  Later, she returned to the track, after receiving medical attention, and the crowd responded with a standing ovation.

Her track and field prowess earned her a National Junior Olympic team spot and she beat the Russians in the pentathlon in a dual meet between US and Russia all-stars. Later as a University of Nebraska college athlete, she won several Big Eight Conference titles in the heptathlon and pentathlon events.

Teacher and coach.

James Kane – Mount Michael

COACH

The 1954 graduate of Wisner High went on to attend UN-L where lettered in baseball for three years and was twice selected All-Big 7 catcher.  After college he spent three seasons in the New York Yankees farm system.  Leaving baseball in 1962, Jim took a job as teacher and coach at Waterloo High School for two years before moving up the road a ways to St. John’s Seminary, which later would be known as Mt. Michael, as its first basketball coach and intramural director. That job evolved into being the “all everything coach” as other sports were added.  His cross country teams were state champions in 1967 and 1968.  Kane-coached football teams had an overall record of 174-93 and two state championships in ’82 and ’90 while qualifying for the playoffs a total of 10 times.  Jim coached his basketball teams to an overall record of 531-254 with 12 trips to the state tournament.  Four of those trips were consecutive, ’82 to ’85, and two were champions, ’83 and ’85.  As a track coach he had many successful seasons taking the Class C state championship in ’73.  Jim was selected as World-Herald Coach of the Year in 1983.